The world(s) of work in transition ETUI-ETUC conference

ETUI jobs

Pascal Etienne, secretary general of the Federation of the European Ergonomics Societies (FEES) attended for a part the three days conference organized at the end of June by the European trade unions (ETUI and ETUC) in Brussels on the issue the world(s) of work in transition.

During the plenary sessions a lot of prominent speakers representing European and global institutions, such as Ministers from Greece or Bulgaria, EU Commissioners, EU MPs, Trade Union Secretaries from the International Trade Union Confederation or the European Trade Union Confederation, the International Labour Organization and academics depicted the future of the EU in a globalized world and the main trends of the future of work. The speeches were coined by the present difficulties in the building of a European frame and its consequences on the work and the labour relations.

The current economic growth model based on constantly rising GDP and an environmental dead end was questioned. In his presentation, for example, the former Director of the World Trade Organization and EU official, Pascal Lamy, stressed that we tend to a “European globalization” in which the European social model (with namely less inequality, social rights and human rights) is part of a “European brand”. The challenge is now to face the greening and the digitalization of the economy. But the session showed as well strong debates on such proposals, some panelists discussing the statement of a European model present in all the EU countries.

In another panel on the issue “a new economic approach: how to fix the shortcomings of the current economic model?” Enrico Giovannini, professor at the Rome University, presented the results of his findings with the necessity to consider the workers as an asset and not a cost, which implies to change the accountability rules. He mentioned as well as resources the results of the ESPAS (European Strategy and Policy Analysis System) conference held in Brussels in November 2017.

FEES remarked two interesting workshops

The role of worker’s participation in addressing the digitalization driven Europeanisation strategies of Multinational Companies (MNCs)

In the workshop, European employers, experts and Works Council representatives presented how MNCs currently shape and have been shaped by the two trends of digitalization and globalization, following a two-step strategy of both stretching and bundling up. “Stretching” refers to company strategies to grow bigger, more digital, and more international through expansion, mergers, and acquisitions, both within and across industries, a process powered by an accelerated implementation of information and communication technology. The subsequent ‘bundling up’ processes manifest themselves in various trends of cross-border standardization and centralization. Both of these processes result in a profound shift in the arenas for workers participation. In an interactive process framed by the results of an overview study about the key trends shaping MNCs strategies, the workshop participants have shared the specific perspectives on these challenges from the point of view of industry, companies and trade unions.

Workshop on the impact of automation on working conditions, health and safety

In this workshop, trade unionist and experts explained how technological developments could be great opportunities to improve the design of safe and healthy working places. Automation impacts both social and economic patterns and makes it necessary to explore the interface between people, machines and processes from a wide range of perspectives. How to deal with the high demands on workers in terms of cognitive abilities, complex decision-making mechanisms, unfamiliarity with (hidden) events and the ramifications of a lack of situational-awareness potentially associated with automation. The very concrete presentations of the panel aimed to understand the territory where designers, employers and workers can look at automation by sharing the respective requirements, concerns and limitations in an attempt to formulate recommendations to promote successful coexistence of automation and workers safety and health. In the debate, the opportunities presented by the implementation of the EU machines directive requirements articulated with the risk assessment requirements of the “OHS framework” directive as a design and feedback process were stressed.

More information on the conference is available on the conference webpage: